How to deal with a Financial Crisis by the Business School of Common Sense

Bare with us on this one and it’ll (hopefully) be worth it…

So you have found that the institution that you are running is in a ‘real’ financial crisis, and having never been in charge of a University before you don’t know how to handle it.  Well don’t panic, all you need is some common sense principals…

  1. Well the first thing to do is to be careful with the budget and not commence any potentially expensive projects (like rebranding, an expensive £42m medical sciences building, or digging up the piazza only because the DMU VC, the Mayor of Leicester and the Bishop have all had a new square and you want one).
  2. You need to keep generating all the income you can so think about cutting non-income generating services.  Some good practice examples of this are Rolls Royce who recently cut 1/5 of their senior managers to help with finances (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jul/28/rolls-royce-to-cut-400-senior-management-jobs), or the highfields centre whose management took pay cuts when they lost some of their funding.
  3. Ok, so you have exhausted the central service cuts, now it is time to make some more ‘difficult decisions’ as now you think you will have to look further a field, perhaps consider cutting non-pay costs, because if you cut departmental employees student satisfaction will go down and so will student to staff ratios and these will both affect your (already dropping) university rankings.
  4. What you are thinking of closing a department, seriously?  That will mean a loss of all the student fees that department takes in, but you are sure?  Ok so the most logical way of doing this would be to come up with some ideas, then fully investigate whether these ideas will actually make you any savings.  You could do this by working out where the projected savings would be made, so what would you save and what would you lose in income.  Once you are absolutely sure you will make a real saving then proceed.

The above strategy makes logical sense, but what did the University of Leicester do once they had declared a ‘financial crisis’?

  1. Totally ignored this one, carried on with rebranding, with quite frankly a shit logo.  Started building work on a piazza so the VC could literally have the newest piazza in town, we don’t want to lag behind the other important men – its basically pissing up the wall for the people in power.
  2. When the management was making these ‘difficult decisions’ they only included making other people redundant (150 of them) who are on much lower pay.  The pay for the leadership team is £1.547million this year for 12 people (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/pay_summaries_for_the_members_of#incoming-860572 – note they did not want to release the VCs wages, I image he is on a ridiculous wage) with £247, 000 for these 12 people’s pensions alone.  The VC got £33,000 for his pension last year (along with £15,000 relocation expenses – he gets a fucking hunting lodge why does he need this as well??? – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/he_director_pay_109?utm_campaign=alaveteli-experiments-87&utm_content=sidebar_similar_requests&utm_medium=link&utm_source=whatdotheyknow) and it wasn’t even a full years work.  These have been rising, £800,000 increase for leadership and legal fees over the last three years.  Obviously the sensible decisions were a little to difficult to make…
  3. Jumped strait to this one, threatening staff with 150 redundancies that are apparently ‘necessary’… Really and a pay cut for senior staff isn’t?
  4. Finally, this one, the getting rid of the Vaughan Centre, which was the ‘difficult decision’ that had to be made to avert this ‘financial crisis’.  Obviously any sensible decision would be based on clear evidence of money saving,  they would have projected the savings wouldn’t they based on the difficulty of this decision? – especially as they have a £3.3m financial team on hand to do this.  Answer: No.  They returned the FOI yesterday   (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/projected_savings_as_a_direct_re#incoming-860535).  In summary, first they pretended that they would make the savings of the staff pay and ‘non-pay costs’, but you and I know this not to be true, as the department covers its pay and non-pay costs through its student fees, although the Uni will not have to pay staff anymore it will lose the student fee income.  This income, following staff being paid, returns £280,000 to the University from the student fees – so there are no savings just the loss of the £280K.  So all the FEC stuff suggests Vaughan has this deficit (ie. the University tells us we are not paying enough to fund them – see our blog ‘Return of the FEC..’), therefore are they saving any money?  No they have just put some wishy-washy statement about how central savings ‘can’t be quantified directly’.

What this translates to is that:  No we didn’t bother to work out whether we would actually save anything from closing Vaughan and actually now we think about it we won’t save anything.  Lets just cover it all up with a couple of numbers and management speak and hope you won’t notice…

So what is this all about then, why are they closing the Vaughan Centre?  Well its based on the ‘strategic vision’ of the Vice Chancellor and the Uni leadership team (staff tell us they have admitted this to them but will not actually go public with it).  This vision involves lots of overseas students paying high fees.  It does not involve local people, mature learners or working people who want to attend evening University courses.  Yes you can study here but only as distance learners, stay in your houses and learn from there but don’t bother to come onto campus – we don’t want your old faces here.  Abandon your dreams and forget about it, the University of Leicester does not want to know.  On this note, the only undergraduate courses offered for enrolment for the university this year for part-time learners are the wonderful SWAG course at the highfields centre (run by Vaughan), four distance learning courses and four campus courses that do not run in the evening and have no part-time students currently enrolled on them.  Hmmm so much for continued commitment to part-time learners.  Where are all these part-time learners they keep mentioning? oh yes they are nearly all postgraduates – fine if you already have a degree.

Finally, this comes from a University that wants to close its bookshop for ‘not making enough money’.  Call me old fashioned but a University without a bookshop is one without a soul.

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